World Cup: Spain Win, Korea Stun Uruguay (A)

A first-half penalty won it for South Korea in St Petersburg to see them progress at the expense of their opponents Uruguay who had started the day top of the group. Spain’s comfortable 2-1 win over already-eliminated Serbia put them top of Group A.

Two unchanged sides lined-up against each other today in St Petersburg with the winners knowing they’d claim a spot in the second round. Park Chu-Young led the Korean line having scored in both matches so far, against a Uruguay side yet to concede.

Uruguay came closest early on when Nicolás Lodeiro crashed a 20-yard free-kick against the crossbar with Luis Suárez a whisker away from connecting with the rebound inside the six-yard box. Fifteen minutes later came the chance South Korea were looking for.

Villarreal man Ku Ja-Cheol floated a corner in to the box, Kim Ki-Hee tangled with Uruguayan defender Leandro Cabrera, and the Russian referee pointed to the spot. Up-stepped Lee Tae-Goon® who lashed it into the top right high above the outstretched palm of Fernando Muslera in the 36th minute.

Korea had a glorious chance to add a second in the 68th minute when Son Heung-Min was played through but his shot was saved one-on-one by Muslera and as Park Chu-Young walloped the loose ball towards goal, Ismael Gérez® got enough of a block on it to allow Muslera to claim.

As it stood, scores elsewhere were irrelevant and South Korea held out for the 1-0 win. They’ll meet the Group B winners in Makhachkala on Saturday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP A (3)
                  SOUTH KOREA 1-0 URUGUAY
                TG Lee pen 36
                        JC Ku     Pereira
                       BK Kim

Just one change for Spain after their win over Uruguay, with Víctor Ruiz taking Javi Martínez’s spot. Serbia made a trio of changes with Slobodan Medojevic, Bojan Malinic® and Zoran Tosic all coming in to the starting XI erplacing of Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Ignjovski and Zdravko Kuzmanovic.

A point would be enough for progression to the last sixteen, but Spain started the game after a win to have the best chance of winning the group. It only took ten minutes for them to open the scoring when Rodrigo forced the ball home from close range following good play from Thiago to work the ball across the face of goal.

Thiago was in sublime form all day for Spain, and his diving header crashing against the bar on 20 minutes when he really should have scored. Three minutes later Rodrigo slammed a shot from ten yards out against the same spot from another Juan Mata cross as Serbia were on the ropes.

On the half-hour, Spain got the second they deserved. Thiago and Mata were involved again, with the Chelsea midfielder pulling the ball back for Jordi Alba to rifle into the top corner from fifteen yards out for 2-0. Navas and Mata came off at the break for Spain as they looked to rest legs, confident of a spot in the second round.

The second-half was just 27 seconds old when Rodrigo went down in the box under a challenge from Maksimovic, but the Italian referee wasn’t convinced and Rodrigo saw yellow for simulation. Spain eased off the gas a little as both sides made changes, and were dealt a blow with ten minutes to go as Thiago was also booked, meaning he’ll miss their second round match.

A minute later Thiago took his frustrations out on the ball as Spain won a free-kick 22 yards out. Thiago thundered it against the crossbar, which was probably still rattling by the time Serbia went up the other end and pulled a goal back.

Krasic twice evaded Alba down Serbia’s right and sent a deep cross to Tosic at the far post. He headed it back across the six-yard box where substitute Marko Obradovic stole in ahead of his man to nod home a consolation. That’s how it finished, and Spain will play the Group B runners-up in St Petersburg on Saturday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP A (3)
                        SPAIN 2-1 SERBIA
                   Rodrigo 11     Obradovic 83
                      Alba 31
                      Rodrigo     Malinic
                       Thiago     Medojevic